playlist compilation article
Rich man. Poor man. Beggar man. Thief. Doctor. Lawyer. Indian chief. From my recollection, these occupations/titles were designators in a child's poem for buttons that would foretell the clothing-wearer's fate. (Never mind that people don't wear only one article of clothing for life.) Scrapbook.com and phrases.org.uk have some overlapping background information.
The scrapbook.com reference mentions the poem as a chant, that the landing button is the occupation of the future spouse. As another use for the chant is to find the "it" person in a game. ("Tag, you're it" comes to mind.) The methodology of determination reminded me a lot of "one potato, two potato", the countoffs starting the same way.
All players put their fisted hands together in a circle and one person starts the chant by tapping each fist in succession. When "Indian Chief" is said, the person whose fist is tapped puts that fist behind their back. Then the chant starts again with the chanter starting with someone else in the cirle [sic]. As soon as one person has both hands out of the circle they are "It".At mamalisa.com, the game-instructions for one-potato-two-potato countoff indicate the similarity to scrapbook.com's button countoff.
All of the kids put our their two fists. One kid goes around tapping the other kids' fists with his fist. The one whose fist he ends the rhyme on is out (that kid puts that fist behind his back). Then go around again and again until only one fist is left. The one that is left at the end of all the rounds is "It".In phrases.org.uk, pits from fruit on game players' plates—rather than their clothing buttons—determine the "it" person. In an indication of ingrained tradition, the occupation/title applies to males only; if the game players are female, "it" is the occupation/title of their future husband. In another difference from scrapbook.com, phrases.org.uk lists occupations as tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief.
For more variations of countoff chants and occupations, visit Wikipedia's tinker-tailor page
Rich man poor man—that phrase is so well-known, I sense many people could mentally finish reciting the rest of the best-known parts of the poem. It's so well-known, an Emmy-award winning mini-series titled Rich Man Poor Man broadcast in 1976
I've thought about songs that tie in with the poem, not initially knowing about tinker, tailor, soldier and sailor. I offer the following for viewing (as much as possible) and listening entertainment:
Beggar ManYardbirds' "Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor". Occupations listed in the lyrics are as follows:
Ain't Too Proud to Beg, Temptations
Beggin', Four Seasons
Baby Please Don't Go, Them/Van Morrison
tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, baker, fine shoe-maker, wise man, madman, taxmanI am unable to find a song that refers to "tailor" as an occupation; however, the Searchers' "Needles and Pins" might be as close I find for a thematic fit because of the implements. Sew, in closing, I hope I will have provided enough entertainment, enlightenment, and a-muse-meant in this article to suit visitors.